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June 14, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 208.
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Muris Fills Top FTC Positions
6/11. The new Federal Trade Commission Chairman, Tim Muris, announced his selection of top staff. Joseph Simons will be Director of the Bureau of Competition, which carries out the FTC's antitrust responsibilities. Howard Beales will be Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, which handles, among other things, online privacy and fraud issues. David Scheffman will be Director of the Bureau of Economics. William Kovacic will be General Counsel. Anna Davis will be Director of Congressional Relations. See, FTC release.
Joseph Simons (Competition Bureau) was a partner is the Washington DC office of the law firm of Clifford Chance. He focused on representing clients before the FTC, DOJ Antitrust Division, and other agencies in antitrust and regulatory matters. He also worked with Muris at the FTC during the late 1980s. See, Clifford Chance bio.
Howard Beales (Consumer Protection Bureau) is a "Chicago school" economist who was a professor at the business school at George Washington University in Washington DC. He was an Associate Professor of  Strategic Management & Public Policy in the School of Business and Public Management. He specializes in consumer research, contract law, economics of commercial free speech, applied macro-economics, advertising, public policy toward business, safety and health regulations. Beales and Muris worked together at the FTC in the 1980s. They have also co-authored academic works. See, Howard Beales and Timothy Muris, State and Federal Regulation of National Advertising, The AEI Press, Washington DC, 1993. See, Amazon listing (out of print).
David Scheffman (Bureau of Economics) is yet another former FTC employee picked by Muris. He worked at the FTC from 1979 through 1988, including as Director of the Bureau of Economics. Scheffman, who will join the FTC on June 25, is an economics professor at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management. See, Vanderbilt bio.
William Kovacic (General Counsel) was a professor at The George Washington University Law School. He worked at the FTC from 1979 through 1983, first with the Bureau of Competition's Planning Office and later as an attorney advisor to Commissioner George Douglas. He also was a professor at George Mason University School of Law, where Muris also taught. Law students may also know of Kovacic as an author of the nutshell titled Antitrust Law and Economics [Amazon]. See, GWU bio.
Anna Davis (Congressional Relations) also worked at the FTC in the 1980s. Most recently, she was Director of JD Career Services at Georgetown University Law Center.
Trade Promotion Authority Bill Introduced in House
6/13. Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL) and others introduced a bill in the House to grant the President trade promotion authority, which is also known as fast track authority. The bill would give the President the authority to negotiate trade agreements that the Senate can approve or reject, but not amend. The bill does not give the President authority to include non trade related issues, such as labor or environmental provisions, in trade agreements. Rep. Crane is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Trade.
Commerce Secretary Don Evans released a statement in which praised Rep. Crane, and stated the case for fast track authority. He wrote: "There are more than 130 preferential trade agreements in the world today. The U.S. belongs to two. We have to get off the sidelines and back into the game. We must provide our negotiators with the power they need to sit down at the bargaining table and secure new trade agreements that open more markets. If we don't move ahead, we risk falling behind." Similarly, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, stated that "It's time to move beyond ideological differences over trade promotion authority and start looking at concrete proposals. Congressman Crane is putting forward a strong, specific proposal for members' consideration. I look forward to working with him and other members to reach a broad, bipartisan consensus about the scope and substance of trade promotion authority. The introduction of this bill is a good start."
Sarbanes Plans to Take S 149 to Senate Floor
6/13. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), the new Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, addressed S 149, the Export Administration Act of 2001, during an unrelated hearing on the nomination of Roger Ferguson to be a Governor of the Federal Reserve System. Sen. Sarbanes said that "the Committee reported out earlier this year a reauthorization of the Export Administration Act by a 19-1 vote. That legislation has been strongly endorsed by the Administration and we hope to take it up on the Senate floor as soon as the floor schedule permits." See, statement. This bill would ease restraints on the export of most dual use products, such as computers and software.
Rep. Sawyer Introduces Privacy Bills
6/12. Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-OH) introduced HR 2135, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act. It was referred to the House Commerce Committee. Rep. Sawyer also introduced HR 2136, Confidential Information Protection Act, a bill to protect the confidentiality of information acquired from the public for statistical purposes. It was referred to the Government Reform Committee.
Rep. Sawyer described his two bills in a release. He stated that "the Sawyer Consumer Privacy Protection Act ... provides for notice of potential secondary uses of information; consumer choice for personal information such as phone numbers and addresses; consumer consent to allow dissemination of Social Security numbers and financial information; and giving consumers improved access to their personal information." He also stated that "On the federal government side, more than 70 federal agencies collect individual and business data, but only 12 are covered under OMB issued regulations providing some form of confidential data protection. The Sawyer Confidential Information Protection Act would extend the protections government wide."
Judiciary Committee Reports HR 1542 Unfavorably
6/13. The House Judiciary Committee held a meeting to mark up HR 1542, the Tauzin Dingell bill, and HR 1698 and 2120, a pair of competing bills sponsored by Cannon and Conyers. The Committee adopted an amendment to HR 1542 offered by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and then voted to report the bill as amended unfavorably. The Committee rejected HR 2120 by a vote of 15 to 19. The Committee took no action on HR 1698. The meeting was brief by Judiciary Committee standards. Only one roll call vote was taken. Subsequently, all parties claimed victory. See, committee release.
Tauzin Dingell. HR 1542, titled the Internet Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act of 2001, is sponsored by Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Commerce Committee. It was reported by the Commerce Committee, after long and bitter mark up sessions last month. Its backers, including the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), argue that it will promote the deployment of broadband services. It is a regulatory relief bill. The RBOCs are required by the Telecom Act of 1996 to open their local facilities to competitors (Section 251); they are also barred from offering in region interlata service until they have satisfied the FCC that they have met a checklist of items pertaining to local competition (Section 271). The bill would, among other things, provide regulatory relief for interlata data (but not voice) services. Supporters of HR 1542 argued at the mark up that broadband cable services are not regulated, so DSL service should not be either.
Sensenbrenner Amendment. The Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over antitrust matters, was given a sequential referral granting it only limited time and jurisdiction over HR 1542. The Committee was not permitted to rewrite the bill. Rather, it had authority only over the Attorney General's consultative authority under Section 271. Pursuant to this limited grant, Rep. Sensenbrenner, the Chairman of the Committee, offered an amendment with two specific provisions. First, while HR 1542 removes certain regulation of RBOCs by the FCC, the Sensenbrenner amendment would then replace it with antitrust regulation of the RBOCs by the Department of Justice. The amendment states that "Section 271 ... is amended by adding at the end the following: ... Neither a Bell operating company, nor any affiliate of a Bell operating company, may begin providing high speed data service or Internet backbone service in any in-region State ... unless it files with the Attorney General of the United States an application to provide such service; and ... the Attorney General ... approves such application ..." The Sensenbrenner amendment would also reverse the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Goldwasser v. Ameritech, in which the Court addressed the application of antitrust law to RBOCs. Proponents of HR 1542 argued against the amendment, and argued that it was beyond the jurisdicition of the Judiciary Committee. Chairman Sensenbrenner ruled the Sensenbrenner amendment to be in order. The Committee then adopted the amendment by a voice vote.
The Committee then adopted by a voice vote a motion made by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) to report the bill, as amended, unfavorably. Cannon is one of the leaders of the opposition to HR 1542.
Legislative Intent. The committee's consideration of HR 1542 illustrates the difficulty of discerning a "legislative intent." Much of the Committee's debate and compromise was conducted prior to the public meeting. The Committee members did not debate or explain the meaning of their reporting the bill unfavorably. There was no roll call vote on either the passage of the Sensenbrenner amendment, or the decision to report HR 1542 negatively. Consequently, immediately after the meeting, Members, industry representatives and committee staff offered conflicting interpretations of the committee's intent in statements that are not a part of the legislative record.
Opponents of HR 1542 called the Committee's action a double victory. According to Julian Epstein, chief minority counsel, the HR 1542 lobby was defeated when the Committee adopted the Sensenbrenner amendment; and it was defeated again when HR 1542 was reported unfavorably. Supporters of HR 1542, such as Ben Cline, Rep. Bob Goodlatte's Chief of Staff, offered a different spin. They argued that by reporting HR 1542 as amended the Committee was expressing its intent that the version of HR 1542 reported by the Commerce Committee was the better bill. This spin does not address why HR 1542's supporters were not able to defeat the Sensenbrenner amendment. Had they had a majority of the votes, they likely would have asked for a roll call vote.
Russell Frisby, President of the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), spoke with reporters after the meeting, and issued release. He stated that "Today is also a great victory for the competitive industry. We set out with two simple goals, and we have achieved all of them. HR 1542 has been negatively referred and strong anti-trust enforcement has once again reclaimed its rightful place in telecommunications." In contrast, Gary Lytle, P/CEO of USTA, a group which represents the RBOCs, stated in a release that "Today, the Judiciary Committee rejected a version of H.R. 1542 that would have added additional burdensome, unfair regulations to the provision of high-speed Internet access by telephone companies, and we expect this version of the bill is likely dead."
If the bill proceeds, it would go next to the House Rules Committee, and then to the House floor, pursuant to whatever rule is adopted by the Rules Committee. Whether the House Republican leadership, with so many pressing items on its agenda, will bring this bill to the floor, is another question. The bill's consideration would take time; the debate would be a divisive and bitter; and, the bill has very little chance of passing the Senate.
The House Judiciary Committee also narrowly rejected HR 2120, the Broadband Antitrust Restoration and Reform Act. This bill was introduced on June 12 by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
Thursday, June 14
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM. The U.S. State Department's International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC)-- Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITAC-T) Study Group B will meet. The purpose of the ITAC is to advise the State Department on policy and technical issues with respect to the International Telecommunication Union and international telecommunication standardization and development. See, notice in Federal Register, May 23, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 100, at Page 28591. Location: Department of Commerce, Room B841A, 1401 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The Senate Government Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations will hold the first of two hearings on cross border fraud, focusing on U.S. Canadian law enforcement cooperation. Location: Room 342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime will hold an oversight hearing titled "Fighting Cyber Crime: Efforts by Private Business Interests." Location: Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building.
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Telecom Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Ensuring Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems: A Progress Report." Location: Room 2322, Rayburn House Office Building. The scheduled witnesses are: Michael Amarosa (True Position), Steve Clark (U.S. Cellular), James Nixon (VoiceStream Wireless), Andrew Rimkus (Airbiquity), Steve Souder (9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center), Thomas Sugrue (FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau).
10:00 AM. The FTC and other agencies will hold a press conference to announce legal actions taken regarding fraudulent marketing of supplements and other health products on the Internet. The participants will include FTC Chairman Timothy Muris and Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Howard Beales. See, FTC notice. Location: Room 432, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
12:00 NOON. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property will meet to mark up H.R. 2047, the "Patent and Trademark Office Authorization Act of 2002." Location: Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building.
Friday, June 15
9:30 AM. The Senate Government Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations will hold the first of two hearings on cross border fraud, focusing on U.S. Canadian law enforcement cooperation. The witnesses will include Hugh Stevenson, Associate Director for the FTC's Policy Planning Division. Location: Room 342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
10:00 AM - 12:30 PM. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology will provide a tutorial on voice over the Internet. The presentation will cover next generation networks based on VoIP, including soft switches, media gateways, media servers, VoIP standardization status, and market drivers of VoIP technologies. See, FCC notice. Location: FCC, 445 12th St. S.W., Room TW-C305, Washington DC.
Deadline for the FCC to submit its annual report to various Congressional committees regarding the progress being made under the ORBIT Act in promoting competition in satellite communications services, and in privatizing INTELSAT and Inmarsat. See, FCC notice.
New Democrats Announce E-genda 2001
6/13. The New Democratic Coalition, a group of moderate Congressional Democrats, released its e-genda 2001. See, release.
Sen. Bunning Re-Introduces Social Security Privacy Bill
6/12. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S 1014, a bill to amend the Social Security Act to enhance privacy protections for individuals, to prevent fraudulent misuse of the Social Security account number. It was referred to the Finance Committee. This is a revision and re-introduction of a bill sponsored by Sen. Bunning in the 106th Congress, S 2876.
Sen. Bunning explained the bill in the Senate. He stated, "This bill prohibits the sale of Social Security numbers by the private sector, Federal, State and local government agencies. This bill strengthens existing criminal penalties for enforcement of Social Security number violations to include those by government employees. It amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to include Social Security number as part of the information protected under the law, enhances law enforcement authority of the Office of Inspector General, and allows Federal courts to order defendants to make restitution to the Social Security trust funds. This bill would also prohibit the display of Social Security numbers on drivers licenses, motor vehicles registration, and other related identification records, like the official Senate ID Card."
Roger Ferguson
6/13. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Roger Ferguson to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Ferguson, who is currently a Governor, was the Board of Governors' point man on Year 2000 conversion preparations. The Committee will vote on the nomination at its June 20 oversight hearing on the condition of the U.S. financial system. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), the Chairman of the Committee said that Ferguson "has served with great distinction." See, statement. See also, prepared statement of Ferguson.
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